The NASA Environmental Management Division presented a prestigious 2012 Blue Marble Award for environmental excellence to Stennis Space Center engineer Bryon Maynard on June 28.
NASA Environmental Management Director James Leatherwood presented the individual NASA Environmental Quality Award to Maynard during a ceremony at Stennis. Maynard was recognized for his role in converting a 107,000-gallon liquid hydrogen sphere and two other tanks into offshore artificial reefs.
Maynard's effort turned the tanks' scheduled demolition into a recycling project that helped to rebuild Mississippi Gulf Coast fish habitats disrupted and destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The 37-foot-diameter sphere was built in the 1960s as a reservoir for liquid hydrogen in the event of an emergency during testing of Saturn V rocket stages for the Apollo Program at Stennis, the nation's largest rocket engine test facility. No longer needed, the sphere and two other tanks were slated for demolition in early 2011.
A recreational scuba diver, Maynard worked with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to prepare and donate the sphere – and two smaller tanks – to the state for use in its artificial reef program. The 98,000-pound sphere was transported by barge from Stennis to an offshore staging site south of Pascagoula and lowered into 85 feet of water last October.
A February 2012 Department of Marine Resources report indicated the sphere and accompanying tanks have aquamarine life starting to bond and are attracting numerous fish species.
"The reuse of the tanks as artificial reefs will continue to benefit the ecology and the economy of the coast for many years to come and will serve as a permanent reminder of NASA's focus on the well-being of the planet," a Blue Marble award summary notes.
The Environmental Management Division of the NASA Headquarters Office of Strategic Infrastructure sponsors the Blue Marble Awards Program to recognize excellence in environmental and energy management in support of NASA's mission. Awards are presented in three categories every two years.
For more information about the NASA Blue Marble Awards Program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/agency/nepa/bluemarble.html.
For information about Stennis, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/stennis .
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